Has the Health budget been cut?

The Chancellor today announced that Health spending would rise in real terms. But a closer look at the numbers suggest that the Health budget will fall against the baseline set out in the June Budget.

Table 2.2 of the June Budget clearly shows that the departmental expenditure limit for current spending in the Department of Health would be £101.5 billion. But Table 1 of today’s Comprehensive Spending Review sets out that the same number is £98.7 billion.

Health spending will rise to £109.8 billion by 2014-15. In real terms, the rise from the new baseline delivers a 1.3 per cent rise. But compared to the baseline set out just four months ago, the rise turns into a cut of 1.5 per cent.

What has happened to the missing £3 billion this year? If these are the the administrative savings, why have they not been reinvested in the NHS?

UPDATE 14.38:

On May 12th, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“What is sustainable for the NHS is that we deliver efficiency savings in the NHS in the same way as the rest of the public sector.

“But because of the nature of the demands on the NHS, if we can secure those efficiency savings, we can reinvest them in the NHS to deliver ­improving outcomes for the public.”

If the missing £3 billion is explained by efficiency savings, what happened to them?

UPDATE 15.51, 21/10:

The BBC have followed up this story but the Government are no closer to providing a robust justification for the baseline switch. In response to a question from shadow health secretary, John Healey, Andrew Lansley would only say “the opposition was comparing different numbers from different sources.” Yes, indeed. Different numbers from the Budget and Spending Review. The onus is on the Government to explain why they’re different.

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